Harlequin Childcare joins Busy Bees family

One of the UK’s leading early years providers has welcomed Harlequin Childcare in Cambridgeshire to its portfolio

The sale has seen Busy Bees acquire the family-owned nursery located at The Old School House on Downham Road in Ely.  

Harlequin Childcare is one of the longest-established nurseries in Cambridgeshire that has been part of the community for 18 years. Catering for 78 children from three months to five years, the nursery has a long-standing team in place, including manager, Alyson Parker, who has been with the nursery since it opened.

The ‘Outstanding’, by Ofsted, nursery strives to provide children with an exemplary start to lifelong learning. The nursery has created a safe and nurturing environment where children are encouraged to explore and discover continually throughout their day, with their individual interests and achievements placed at the heart of their learning. 

The nursery has six rooms, all of which are open plan and provide a homely environment. The baby room (Willow) provides a spacious area introducing babies to a variety of activities to stimulate their senses and encourage new skills and milestones. The toddler area features two rooms (Birch and Cedar) with each one offering age-appropriate learning experiences to encourage children to become more independent and explore their inquisitive nature. As the children continue the nursery journey, they join the two to three-year-old room (Maple). This environment develops the use of the children’s ever-growing language in preparation for the two preschool environments (Oak and Elm). These rooms provide the routine and activities to develop skills that will give the children confidence in their journey to school.

Freedom to access the outside environment is a fundamental part of the nursery ethos. The garden has six individual areas where children develop their imaginative play in a natural and safe environment.

Following the acquisition, Busy Bees now has two early years settings based in Cambridgeshire including Busy Bees Westwick located at Westwick Hall Farm.

The Busy Bees group now cares for more than 40,000 children across 379 nurseries in the UK and Ireland, and 75,000 children globally across eight countries.

RDK’s director of Childcare & Education Jenna Caldwell stated: “From my first meeting with the owners, I knew their opportunity would be of significant interest to our buyers. Although our clients initially were looking to sell in a few years’ time, they soon realised that they could achieve more than what they were initially looking for and have more time together as a family which was their ultimate goal. The offer process was incredibly quick with offers being placed within 24 hours from viewing which further demonstrates the attractiveness of the childcare sector to all investors.”

“I am so pleased for our clients and wish them all of the very best with their retirement and future plans.”

Cheryl Creaser, Europe chief exec at Busy Bees, said: “Over the years, Harlequin Childcare has created a wonderful environment for children, and we are delighted to welcome the children, families and team into our Busy Bees family.

“Their child-initiated approach perfectly aligns with our mission at Busy Bees, and we are looking forward to working with the team to ensure children continue receiving the best possible start in life.”

Thor Thomassen and Jayne Chapman, owners of Harlequin Childcare, added: “After 18 years, we will be sad to say goodbye to all our families and team that have supported us over the years. But we know we are leaving Harlequin Childcare in good hands.

“Busy Bees is at the forefront of childcare and shares our values to ensure children’s curiosity, safety and wellbeing are prioritised. They have an excellent reputation for providing outstanding, quality childcare and a deep wealth of resources and experience that our wonderful team, parents and children will benefit from. We wish them the very best.”

Parents and staff at the nursery will have access to the Busy Bees’ Unleashing Potential (UP) learning and development tool. The specially designed app brings together activities, songs, games, and advice in one place for educators to use with children, inspiring a variety of enriching learning opportunities.

Date Published: March 7, 2022